Laws requiring all schools in Northern Ireland to provide faith-based Christian religious education and worship breach human rights legislation, the UK High Court has ruled. Mr Justice Colton ruled that the Christian nature of RE and worship violates the freedom of religion or belief of a non-religious family. Joe Aldred, from the National Church Leaders Forum told why he agrees with the ruling: “This sounds about right to me, in the sense that if you have a community where we’re changing the balance, in terms of ethnicity and faith then I think the practice in institutions like education in schools, for example, should follow and be fair to all concerns. “So I think you’re supporting an exclusive protectionist ideology or practice that seems to me to be unsustainable as a practice.” Aldred also said that he believes that the shift in the demography of religious practice is not just a Northern Ireland issue, it is a national issue across the U.K.
He said it is indeed a world phenomenon, particularly in the Western world and he thinks it will have implications for elsewhere. Aldred said: “I think protectionist ways of ensuring that your faith is taught and practiced in schools, in the education system, is not the way to go. “I think what we all need to feel is that the society in which we live is fair to us, whether we’re believers or non-believers, whether we have faith or have no faith, and whatever part of particular faith communities and societies that we belong to, I think that society and its laws should apply fairly. “Faith based institutions should not be expect the law to provide some kind of exclusivity to their right to teach and to practice. “In schools, what this should lead to is that Christianity in general, particularly in the Western world, needs to become far more proactive in promoting and practising the faith and passing it on to our children and not rely on legal protectionism.”
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